India Accuses Pakistan of Being 'Non-Transparent' in Selection of Hindu Pilgrims Bound For Peshawar
09:16 GMT 01.01.2022 (Updated: 18:02 GMT 08.12.2022)
The Teri Temple near Peshawar is dedicated to a Hindu saint: Paramhans Dayal. The Pakistani Hindu community organised a massive event to mark the Diwali festivities in November last year. The Hindu religious site had to be repaired last year after it was vandalised by an Islamist mob in an attack in December 2020.
India has slammed Pakistan for extending an invite to a "select group" of people to visit a famed Hindu temple in Peshawar, claiming that the selection process by Islamabad was carried out in a “non-transparent manner”.
"This was also contrary to the spirit under which the two sides conducts pilgrimages," Indian officials have said.
"Now, around 160 Indians pilgrims, selected by Indian organisers, will cross over to Pakistan through the Wagah-Attari land border (on 1 January). As in the past, the Indian government is fully committed to provide all assistance to the Indian pilgrims," officials have further said.
Pakistani parliamentarian Ramesh Vankvani, who also heads the Pakistan Hindu Council (PHC)
, has said that another batch of Hindu pilgrims will also be arriving in Pakistan from Dubai.
31 December 2020, 11:59 GMT
The Hindu pilgrims will be in Pakistan for four days and will visit the Hindu religious sites of Teri Temple near Peshawar (in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province) and the Hinglaj Mata Temple in Balochistan during their visit, as per Vankvani.
He also claimed that from next month onwards, the Indian pilgrims will be able to fly straight to Peshawar and Karachi from Indian cities rather than crossing the border on foot and then taking a connecting flight from Lahore, around 30 kilometres from the Wagah border.
Vankvani further said that the PHC will also organise a visit of Pakistani citizens, including parliamentarians, after 20 January to the renowned Muslim religious shrines located in the Indian cities of Ajmer and New Delhi.
“A series of flights will start from both the countries every month to facilitate religious pilgrims,” he emphasised, adding that "Pakistani pilgrims will visit India on Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flights whereas Air India will bring Indian passengers here to Pakistan.”
He said that these visits will boost people-to-people ties between the two subcontinental neighbours.
Ties between Pakistan and India have been particularly strained since New Delhi’s decision to scrap the semi-autonomous status of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir
in August 2019. In response, Islamabad, which controls a part of Jammu and Kashmir, rejected New Delhi’s move and downgraded diplomatic ties with its eastern neighbour.
Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government has said that it won’t resume a formal dialogue with New Delhi until it rolls back its August 2019 decisions, which also included bifurcating the former state of Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories.
New Delhi has rejected Islamabad’s criticism and consistently maintained that anything that has to do with Jammu and Kashmir remains India’s “internal matter”.